Sunday, August 31
Ron Brown, a Honda salesman said : "It's nuts, people are buying these cars from me and turning around and selling them as if they were flipping real estate."
Natural gas cars are so popular in Utah because the cost of running them is about one-quarter of running a car on gasoline - around 87 cents a gallon.
Governor John Junstsman Jr. converted his own SUV last year at a cost of $12000. It helps that natural gas prices are controlled in Utah. And of course T. Boone pickes is promoting wind power and natural gas.
There are around 116,000 vehicles fuelled by natural gas in the US, mostly fleet vehicles, but now it seems ordinary consumers are getting in on the act too. But retail prices for natural gas can be as much 3 times the cost in Utah.
Tuesday, August 26
Online Stock Trading : Bioenergy Africa Ethanol Biofuels Sugar Cane CaperBioenergy Africa Ltd., a company which was created to develop the manufacture of ethanol from sugar cane to supply bio-fuels across the world, expects to raise around $16 million when it is admitted to AIM in London which would give it a market capitalisation of $77 million.
Admission of the shares is expected on Sept. 1.
Given the general interest in all things bio-energetic at the moment it might be worth taking a closer look once the bio-dust has settled.
Friday, August 22
Ever wondered how much CEOs make and which of them make the most ? Well wonder no more ! They make a lot. How do they do it? Quite simple really, they sell stuff to people like you and me at inflated prices (because they can, in case you were wondering that too) and siphon off a large proportion of the sale price into their own pockets while at the same time paying their workforce just enough to keep them alive so they can come back to work the next day. It ain't brain surgery or rocket science but it does pay well. And the beauty of it is, it's all voluntary !
The numbers below were put together by Associated Press and take into account "salary, perks, bonuses, above-market interest on pay set aside for later, and estimated stock option and stock award values on the day they were granted last year."
AP puts Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle top of the heap at $84.6 million, with John Thain from Merrill Lynch at number two, at just over $83 million! Is this the same John Thain who took the decision to "sell billions of dollars in bad mortgages at fire sale prices" thus attracting the scorn of Wall Street, which saw it as "an ill-timed move and a departure from his pledge that he would not raise additional capital "a move that caused eye-popping dilution for Merrill's shares." Nah, it must be someone else. "Right now we believe that we are in a very comfortable spot in terms of our capital," he said July 17. Less than two weeks later, Merrill needed to raise another $8.5 billion of capital. Note his careful use of the words "in a very comfortable spot" which can be interpreted to mean anything you want it to mean (that must be why they pay him so much).
But I digress, this is a post about how much CEOs rake in, not about whether they are worth it or not.
Number three is Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS, who pulled in more than $67 million.
So here, finally, is the list of the 10 highest-paid CEOs of Standard & Poor's 500 companies.
1. Larry Ellison, Oracle Corp., $84.6 million
2. John Thain, Merrill Lynch & Co., $83.1 million
3. Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp., $67.6 million
4. Richard Adkerson, Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc., $65.3 million
5. Bob Simpson, XTO Energy Inc., $56.6 million
6. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., $53.9 million
7. Kenneth Chenault, American Express Co., $51.7 million
8. Eugene Isenberg, Nabors Industries Ltd., $44.6 million
9. John Mack, Morgan Stanley, $41.7 million
10. Glenn Murphy, Gap Inc., $39.1 million
All this while the economy is falling apart and thousands of people are being evicted from their homes for the want of a few thousand dollars!
In case $84.6 million every year is difficult to grasp, it works out to $232,000 each and every day of the year (assuming Larry Ellison works 365 days a year) or $23,200 an hour (assuming he works 10 hours a day). Are they worth that much ? Personally I don't think so, they could do the same job for one-tenth of what they earn and still live very comfortable lives. But in the words of the great Gordon Gecko, "Greed is good". ten highest earners highest paid CEOs
Thursday, August 21
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is warning of a scam set up by at least 10 ‘recovery firms’ targeting investors who bought shares through Pacific Continental Securities (UK) Ltd (Pacific Continental).
Investors who originally bought shares through Pacific Continental have complained to the FSA that they are getting calls from firms offering to take the shares off their hands, or to put them in touch with a buyer - for a fee.
These 'recovery firms', often call from outside the UK and are not authorized by the FSA. Known as 'recovery rooms', these firms offer an attractive price for the shares but require a fee upfront.
This is a scam - once the fee is paid, the firm disappears with the money and does not buy the shares.
Thursday, August 14
Online Stock Trading - Protherics Up Sharply on Bid ApproachesShares in Protherics (PTI) have shot up over 25 percent to 53 pence, and around 60% in 2 days, after (and before) it reported on Wednesday that it has received a number of bid approaches from potential buyers.
Broker opinions differ on the possibilities of a deal, FinnCap and Seymour Pierce are maintaining their 'buy' rating.
FinnCap said in its initiation note of April 8 that they were "convinced AstraZeneca will buy Protherics".
KBC Peel Hunt on the other hand has a 'sell' on Protherics, arguing its lead drug Cytofab has already been out-licensed, so they don't see why AZN would buy Protherics until the full Phase IIb results are known in 2010.
Finncap analyst Keith Redcap, however, said : "How much will AstraZeneca pay in order not to pay out more than $1 billion (500 million pounds) in royalties a year?" His price target is 100 pence, which is double the current price, but he also said the market will probably capitulate at a price that undervalues the company.
Sounds to me like he has an interest in the share, but doing the rounds of the 'experts' on the bulletin boards prices of anywhere between 64p the price AZN bought in at and 100p+ are being mentioned. Holders will be hoping for a bidding war of course.
So a risky punt at the moment given that it is now 55p and if discussions do not
lead to anything concrete then we all know what that means.
5-year stock charts
So we see that the share price started moving yesterday afternoon before the announcement, no doubt just a coincidence.
Thursday, August 7
Stocks and Shares - Joe Granville Goes Bullish on the Markets
Joe Granville has just been on CNBC saying he has gone bullish on the markets. Joe Granville is a well-known investor who went bearish on the stock markets in October 2007 when he called the exact top.
Why has he gone bullish ? Because on July 15th the stock markets saw the largest number of lows ever recorded, so he covered all his shorts and went long. How long will he be long ? Until he gets a sell signal. Not very helpful but I guess if you subscribe to his newsletter you may find out when he goes bearish again.
He also says he called the bottom in Oct. 2002 and March 2003 and that the new leadership is now the low price stocks. He added that the DOW could go back down to 9000 but at the moment we are in a bullish phase so he is long and he say the markets are going "straight up".
[UPDATE March 2009 : He appears to have been wrong !]
Related post : Stocks and shares
Wednesday, August 6
The rising price of gas/petrol is forcing people to look around for ways of keeping travelling costs down. A number of towns have now started allowing electric golf carts into their streets. In St. Louis for example, Bob Woll says his preferred mod eof transport is his golf cart.
"There's no noise, no checking how much gas you've got. You just get on and go," said Woll, who happens to an alderman in Sesser, Illinois, and was instrumental in passing an ordinance allowing golf carts onto the streets.
Sesser is just one among many towns allowing the non-polluting electric vehicles onto the streets. They are of course cheaper and cleaner than cars and trucks. Bob Woll’s cart is twenty years old and cost him $300 it also goes 20 miles on a 10-hour charge.
Safety is a factor that could limit the vehicle's use with injuries on the rise. There are now 12,000 annually.
Experts say helmets and seat belts would reduce the accident rate.
Twenty-six states in the U.S. allow low-speed electric vehicles on local streets, or have given communities the power to make that decision.
In Circleville, Ohio, carts are now allowed on the streets with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, but they must be titled and insured and require modifications to make them street-legal.
Electric vehicle manufacturer E-Z-GO in Georgia, makes vehicles that look like upmarket golf carts, says that orders are up nearly 30% year on year. New carts with creature comforts such as headlights, tail lights, turn signals etc… cost about $8,000.
Electric models, which travel 40 miles per charge, are more popular than the 30 mpg gas-powered models.
Critters Golf Carts in Woodstock, Illinois, say sales are in overdrive. Shirley Forman normally sells 60 or 70 carts a year, but this year she has already sold 128, which represents around a 300% increase.
In most towns carts are not allowed on sidewalks/pavements and in Sesser the must be covered by liability insurance and pay a $35 fee.
Many states require a valid driver's license.
Accidents are on the increase but fatal golf cart accidents are few and far between.
In Sesser they are considering getting a used golf cart for the water department to use when reading meters.
"This maybe would save us about $600 to $700 a year in fuel just for the water department," Bob Woll said.
So with sales soaring electric golf carts manufacturers could well be a shrewd stockmarket investment, and of course companies that make batteries for electric vehicles.
In the UK where petrol is closer to $12 a gallon than $4, electric golf carts would be even more useful, but so far I haven't seen evidence of an increase in their use, but we generally tend to copy the USA sooner or later.
Xstrata, which has grown through acquisition over the past five years, has been looking at Lonmin for some time, and appears to be taking the recent fall in the platinum group's shares as a chance to make a move.
Xstrata was apparently contacting shareholders with an offer in the high £20 a share, the newspaper said quoting an unidentified "insider". UPDATE : It turns out the bid is at £3 a share and Lonmin has said that it is not enough. Lonmin closed yesterday at 23.19 pounds ($45.34) after a rise of 4.6%. It is currently trading at £34.
Platinum prices have fallen 24% since June 30 as declines in auto sales are giving rise to concerns that demand for platinum in cars will fall.
Xstrata was not available for comment and Lonmin declined to comment.
3-year LONMIN Chart
3-month Lonmin Chart
Saturday, August 2
Online Trading - Royal Bank of Scotland to Sell Bank of China Stake
RBS has indicated it may sell its Bank of China stake as it reviews all options to boost cash resources.
Its 5% interest in Bank of China has practically trebled to around $4.7 billion since it acquired the stake in 2005.
Friday, August 1
Ever wondered what the McClellan Oscillator is and whether it's any use for predicting stockmarket or forex behaviour? Yes, of course you have. Well the McClellan Oscillator is in fact a market breadth indicator devised by Mr and Mrs McClellan back in 1969, based on the difference betwen the number of stocks which have advanced and the number which have declined and is very good apparently at indicating the end of bull markets and bear markets
See stock market charts for beginners for further information
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Online Stock Trading - Psychometric Tests and Looking for a Job
If you've ever wondered what psychometric tests are and why companies are using them more and more and just why they appear so ridiculous and illogical (there is a reason) - unfortunately this post has been deleted and has disappeared.
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Stocks and Shares to Watch
Buy Severn Trent at £1376
Buy Aberdeen Asset Management at 146p
Buy Irvine Energy at 2.33p
Buy GB at 31p
Buy Renewable Energy at 117.5p
Sell Impellam at 71p
Buy Low & Bonar -- Novera Energy
Sell Aquarius Platinum -- Holidaybreak
Aero Inventory fairly priced
Buy GlaxoSmithKline -- United Business Media -- PZ Cussons -- Keller-- Capita -- Neutrahealth -- Dignity -- Newman Security -- Rolls-Royce -- Probability -- Bodycote -- International Personal Finance -- BG Group
Sell Colt Telecom. -- Galiform
Shire a speculative buy
Anglo American: stay on the sidelines if you don't like risk
William Hill just a hold
Rumours that African Diamonds has several potential suitors
Tiddler : Griffin Mining
Hold Anglo American
Buy Carphone Warehouse
Buy William Hill
Buy Reed Elsevier